Before the Sunset

Illustration: daniel_oito_eros

*Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, healing vibes &  well-wishes. My grandmother has finally been  released from the hospital & her condition has been stabilized. I called her & she wept on the phone which was really hard for me because I have never seen my gran cry. She said, ‘I was so scared that I would die without seeing you again, I was in so much pain that I thought I was dying’ and I told her ‘No, Nana please don’t say that, you are not going to die. And I am going to see you soon. I am writing a story about you’. I couldn’t see her but I knew that she was smiling. So please keep her in your thoughts & prayers. I’m dedicating this post to all loyal fans of ‘Gran’ series. So sorry I delayed in writing this but I’m sure you’ll all bear with me that the circumstances have been difficult. I love you all.


Some people say that time passes by quickly when you’re happy. That must be true because the first 9 years of my marriage to Yaw are now one happy blur. It was the first time in my life that I felt totally happy and content. You see, I was born a half orphan.

I say that I was born a half-orphan because I never met my mother. She died while giving birth to me, her first child. My father was heartbroken. He loved her so much that he could not bear to live in our village without her. He packed his bags and resettled in Kumasi. I did not see him until several years later.

Before my father went to Kumasi, he left me with Aya, his mother. I did not even realize that Aya was not my birth mother until I grew up. This is why I called her ‘aya’,  the Fante word for ‘mother’. Aya tried to be both mother and father to me. She nourished me with all the love in her heart and indulged me like a mother indulges a child born to her in old age.

When I married Yaw, he became my mother, my father and my everything. Yaw was so understanding. If I pouted and said that I needed more ‘chop money’ to buy smoked fish from the market, he would give me the money without complaining. He was generous to a fault not just to me but to everyone he met. Every child in our village knew that the surest way to get a piece of candy was to show up at Yaw Obeng’s store, bathed and dressed, your forehead shining with Shea butter and your teeth gleaming with smiles.

Yaw was so kind to me. He thanked me everyday for giving him wonderful children, Efua and Kwansa. Yaw appreciated the least thing I did in the house. In the evenings, after he had closed from the store and I had come home from the farm, he would sit down to eat my dinner like it was the best meal he had ever tasted. That’s how you know a man loves you my granddaughter, when he will lick his bowl and fingers clean just because you  made the meal. One day, I made etsew, corn dough balls and stew for him and accidentally put too much salt in it. He ate every morsel in his asanka clay bowl, then looked at me and said ‘Am I not lucky that the best cook in the world is my wife’?

On the days that I left the children with Aya, Yaw would close the shop early so that he could be home before sunset. He would hold my hand as we walked to the riverside where I often went to watch the sun set when I was a single woman. He would sit on a rock at the riverside and ask me to sit on his laps. Then he would hold me and whisper tenderly to me how much he loved me and how I was the most beautiful woman in the world. He would start from my head and adore every part of my body. He praised my big eyes, my yellow skin, bushy eyebrows, thick hair, curvaceous figure. Then he would tenderly tell me how all those years that I had been walking in front of his store to go to the riverside, he had watched me and promised himself that he would make me his wife someday. And I would melt a little.

The  9th year of our marriage was when Yaw began to travel a lot. He traveled to the neighboring towns to sell some of his goods. He planned to set up stores in these towns as well and employ people to run them. He traveled to the Cape Coast port where he bargained with ‘middlemen’ to buy goods that had just been imported so that he could resell them in his store for a profit. Yaw’s store had  tripled in size and he had become a rich man but I was unhappy. I wished that he could be home more often with me and the children. I knew that his job was important since it made enough money to keep us all comfortable.

I got pregnant in the 9th year of our marriage and that pregnancy was very difficult unlike my two previous pregnancies. This baby seemed to be so furious. It would wake me up in the middle of the night by kicking me so hard that I could not go back to sleep. I could hardly keep any food down. Yaw tried to tempt me with corned beef, sardines, and cookies from his store but I was not interested. Instead, it appeared that the only food this baby wanted was hot pepper. I craved pepper so much that I would  pop dried peppers into my mouth, chewing till my eyes brimmed with tears and the roof of my mouth burned with hot fire. How I wished Yaw was home to rub shea butter on my tummy and massage my back with herbs like he did when I was pregnant with Efua and Kwansa.

In my 8th month of pregnancy, I was home when Aba Nsia knocked on my door. My face dropped when I saw her. Aba was the town gossip and I could neither stand her nor her hooded eyes that resembled a lizard. I would have turned her away but in Fante custom, it is rude to turn away a visitor. ‘Hi, Aba’ I said coldly, ‘shall I offer you a calabash full of water?’. ‘Yes please’ she said smiling. No sooner had she sat down than Aba said ‘Eii, Araba, you’re sleeping but your legs are outside! They are using your knife to cut a snake and you don’t even know’. ‘W-what are you tallking about Araba? Stop speaking in parables’, I said, my head had started to throb. ‘Araba, why are you sleeping while your rivals are dancing apatampa in your backyard? hmmm, open your eyes o!’  I had had enough. ‘Look here Aba, I don’t have any rival. As you know, I’m my husband’s only wife so if you have come here to tell me that you also want him then good you can have him! By the way, if you’ll excuse me, I can’t sit and chat because I have to cook my  husband’s dinner’. “Oh, sorry o my dear, I didn’t mean to take up your time. Let me be on my way and tell your husband that I said hello when he comes home”. I hated the way she sneered when she said ‘husband’ but I decided to ignore it as she left my home.

That evening, I served Yaw yam and palaver sauce. The children were with Aya. Yaw hardly touched his food. It was when he said ‘Thanks for the delicious meal, Araba’ that I knew. I knew because Yaw never called me Araba. He called me odo yewu (the one I love to death) when we were alone. He called me Maame (mom) when our children were around. He called me obaapa (good woman) when our friends and family were around but he never ever called me Araba.

I knew. I knew. And my heart was breaking. I began to yell, my voice hoarse from the tears streaming down my face’O my god Yaw, why did you do this to me? What did I do to make you hate me like this? Yaw was I not good enough? I thought you were different from other men, I didn’t know …” I couldn’t even speak anymore so I just bent over and continued sobbing. Yaw tried to hold me, his voice tinged with guilt and terror “Araba, Araba please don’t do this. Araba please take it easy, please remember your condition. Please Araba”.  I was crying so hard that I didn’t realize that the pain I was feeling in my abdomen wasn’t due to the baby kicking but it was due to the fact that I had gone into labor…




Sunset by the River


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15 comments On Before the Sunset

  • Will keep granny in our prayers… N stop teasing us like… Waiting patiently for the continuation

    • thanks @ Nick! lol, please I beg you i’m not teasing o! i know some people (ahem*AM aka African Mami) won’t believe me but I cut off the essay when I have 1500- 1600 words. And weirdly enough,lately, I’ve been hitting 1500 point when the page turner happens 🙂

      • why would I believe that Ekuba?!?!? You’ve well mastered the art of teasing, the gene has been successfully passed on to you by your predecessors, or is it ancestors-since they are no longer in the writing business…

        Glad that grandma is doing much better. Anxiously waiting for the next installment.

        • lol @ AM ‘predecessors’ hahahaha. Please don’t be anxious, the next instalment will drop this very week even before you know it

  • Ekuba I am so happy that your grandma is OK, not for me or for anyone on this site but for you and her. May you see each other again before she passes on to the ancestors. I wasn’t so fortunate. It almost destroyed me.

    • @ Nnenna: I love you, that is all I can say. You have no idea how soothing your words are to me. It’s as if you always have the right answers to every situation (remember how you advised me that my ex wasn’t worth my time lol Thank you so much for that! Girl, I threw him out on his ass! hahaha). I’m really sorry though that in your case, you never had the chance to say goodbye to your gran before she passed away. Please, I really believe that in her heart of hearts, she knew that she loved you & that she probably even said goodbye to you. My dad died in another city. I didnt get to say goodbye & I didn’t even know that he had died as I went about my activities that day which was heartbreaking for me. But later, when I thought about it, I realized that he had said ‘goodbye’ to me in so many ways but I just never realized it. Maybe our spirits/ souls/ essence? knows when we’re about to leave & says goodbye to all our loved ones.

      • Well, my culture believe in reincarnation. Hopefully, we’ll meet again. If not, well, I believe we’ll still belong to the same gene pool in future lives. 😀

  • I am still loving this series. I am glad to know that grandma is okay and will keep her in my thoughts.

    • @CosmicYoruba: I hope you do realize that although I didn’t mention any names, you’re one of the ‘loyal fans of the Gran series’ that I had in mind when I wrote the intro to this episode. Thanks for the continued support.

  • Ekuba– and the shoe drops(!) Or does it?
    Good to know your gran’s ok.

  • Waiting patiently

    • @ Robah: Blessed are the meek aka patient for they will inherit the earth & you my dear will be inheriting the continuation of this story this very week, for being sooo patient 🙂

  • Eh? Yaw? Why? And I was thinking he was such a perfect romantic at the earlier part of this story.

    I too I’m glad that Gran is much better x

    • lol @ Nana my grandma is still in love with that guy paa o! You should have seen her face recently when she saw a framed picture of my mom’s wedding which had my grandpa ‘Yaw’ in it. She went on & on talking about him endearingly while my sister & I gave each other looks signalling that we’d have a laugh about it later when our beloved Gran isn’t around lol. Yes i’m glad she’s fine

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